Last night I attended (as an observer) the Helston Business Forum which had been arranged by the Helston Town Centre Manager, Richard Dennery. I have to say first I was not sure how many people would turn up, but as we got near the starting time it was standing room only. I reckon there were at least 100 people in the room, and it seemed all from the business community.
The meeting started with Richard talking about a few facts and dispelling a few myths on town centre shopping. He then talked about his draft plan for the town centre. The draft was in a very draft form and as Richard said “everything is still on the table, and nothing has been decided”. It was then over to those gathered to ask questions.
The first and only real topic that got discussed was on parking and the associated prices. I was amazed at some of the points that got made on parking, not because I disagreed with what they said, but because they were not true. A lot of myths still surround parking as I heard Camborne gets free parking and others made points that were completely untrue.
After about an hour of listening to it, I raised my hand to speak. Always a dangerous move as you really don’t know how it will go. Surprisingly it went well and I took the time to explain some of the issues surrounding parking charges. I then said something about the businesses helping themselves by offering to give back the parking free if the customer spent so much in their shop. A previous speaker who owns the health food shop in Helston already offered this, and he said this works.
Those gathered then took matters into their own hands and basically said we (shop keepers) should all offer this. A multitude of hands went up and it seems many thought it was a good step forward of helping to solve the issue of charging. Suddenly it all looked positive and people were offering to help with making up posters so everyone had a uniformed sign.
For a town the size of Helston it amazes that there is not a Chamber of Commerce, or something similar. It is a credit to the Town Centre Manager for getting so many people in the room to talk about various issues, and more importantly help solve them. Hopefully meeting like this will be more frequent and the traders come together for the good of Helston. It was a good start and they will build on this first meeting.